Human Interest

Toshiki Kaifu, Former Japanese PM, dies at 91

Tokyo, Jan 14 (EFE).- Former Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, who ruled the country in the early 1990s and sent the army on their first mission abroad, has died at 91, the government reported Friday.

Kaifu held a number of Cabinet posts, including Chief Cabinet Secretary, Government Spokesperson and twice Education Minister, before becoming Prime Minister in 1989.

He died Sunday, government Spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said, without specifying the causes.

During the Gulf War (1991), the Kaifu Administration contributed $13 billion to coalition forces. After the conflict, his government authorized sending army minesweepers to the Persian Gulf, the first foreign mission of the armed forces since their establishment.

Wearing a distinctive style often accompanied by polka-dotted ties, he enjoyed good public support for his image as a “clean and ethical” politician, and led the Liberal Democratic Party to victory in the 1990 general election.

Born in Ichinomiya, Nagoya, on Jan. 2, 1931, Kaifu was the first Japanese prime minister born in the Showa era (1926-1989).

Son of the owner of a photographic studio, in his High School student years he passed the exams to be a volunteer of the special youth corps in the Air Force, but did not become a member due to the end of World War II.

His interest in politics began in 1951, when while still a student at Waseda University in Tokyo, he was helping conservative parliamentarian Kinsho Kono.

In 1954 he finished his law degree and two years later graduated in Political Science. His entry into politics occurred in 1960, when he was elected to parliament for his home province of Aichi.

In August 1989 he was elected president of the democratic party to replace Sosuke Uno, who, in compliance with Japanese law, also succeeded him as prime minister after his resignation. In November he was re-elected at the head of the formation.

Kaifu attempted to undertake a political reform and restructuring of the Japanese electoral system, through three bills that sought to modify the electoral operation and the financing of parties and candidates for parliament. However, he ran into the “barons” of his party, who opposed these reforms.

Kaifu resigned to stand for re-election as president of the party. After leaving the presidency, he was also forced to leave the head of government, getting replaced by his party successor Kiichi Miyazawa in November 1991.

In 1994 he left the democrats and became president of the New Frontier Party (Shinshinto). EFE


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